I am often asked why passengers need to provide a photocopy of a passport for international travel via private aircraft. Additionally, I am asked why the weights and date of birth along with a name and driver’s license copies are needed for domestic travel. I will cover the requirements of international travel first.
For international travel, passengers are often required to provide a passport number prior and present the passport for check-in when traveling via an airline. The process is essentially the same for private air charter and since there is no check-in, these requirements are managed prior to the date of travel. Why? Passengers traveling via private charter are subject to the same requirements and will face customs officials upon arrival at their destination. It is necessary for charter carriers to provide passport numbers in advance of arrival for each passenger aboard the flight. Additionally, the identification is compared with the current no-fly list. This allows passengers to immediately board and depart upon arrival at the aircraft and ensures that each passenger possesses a passport. This minimizes any inconvenience to the passenger(s) while fulfilling government requirements.
The same process is in place for domestic travel via air charter. Although a passport is not required, a driver’s license or state identification card is the norm. Additionally, passenger weights and dates of birth (weights are requested for international passengers as well) are required. Why the dates of birth with names? Again, the no-fly list is cross-referenced. Weights are requested for domestic and international travel so that weight and balance calculations can be performed prior to travel. This is a matter of passenger convenience in a couple of ways. First, the weight and balance can be completed ahead of time so that passengers can board and depart immediately upon arrival. Since weight and balance calculations are required prior to any and every flight, this is unavoidable. Secondly, any looming issues with excess baggage or weight can be managed well in advance of the flight. That way, a passenger can make alternate arrangements for their pet elephant rather than be upset and inconvenienced prior to their trip with friends on a King Air 200.